Expert says women face unique retirement challenges: CNBC

A gap in wages between men and women, coupled with a longer life span, create challenges for women in retirement

Women face a series of challenges that add up to make retirement prospects “pretty bleak,” including issues such as gender pay inequality, longer life spans and a lack of savings based on U.S. Census Bureau data.

But Cindy Hounsell, founder and president of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, said during an event hosted by CNBC that there are ways to adequately prepare.

“The typical woman earns a lower salary than men: about 82 cents for every dollar, according to the Pew Research Center,” CNBC stated in its account of the event. “That gender wage gap, which has hardly improved in two decades, makes it harder to save for the future.”

On top of this, a woman’s savings generally needs to go further than a man’s since a woman who retires at age 65 lives an average of 21 years longer — or nearly three years longer than men who retire at the same time — according to data from the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

This often leads to women needing to make more difficult lifestyle concessions in later life, according to Marianela Collado, a certified financial planner and CEO of a financial advisory firm in Florida.

Caregiving responsibilities also often fall on the shoulders of women, which could further compound the issues they face, based on data shared from the National Institute on Retirement Security.

But there are proactive measures that can be taken.

“For example, if women think they’re underpaid, they can sit down with their managers at work, inquire about opportunities for growth and find avenues for higher earning potential,” Collado explained during the event. “Show managers where you add value and try to get fair compensation, she added.”

Auditing personal spending and taking advantage of employer offerings, such as a 401(k) match, could also make a difference for women saving for retirement, she added.

According to 2023 reverse mortgage use trends based on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) data, single women were the biggest demographic served by the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program in fiscal year 2023. They comprised 39.4% of all borrowers, while single men comprised only 20.8% of borrowers. About 35% of loans served multiple borrowers, likely in the form of married couples or cohabitating family members.

Single women also outnumbered single men among reverse mortgage clients in 2022, based on similar data from one year earlier.

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